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5 Ways to Not Put So Much Pressure on Yourself

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

Learn how to deal with the daily pressures of being a modern-day human in a whirlwind of to-dos.

Woman giving a lecture with audience members raising their hands
Have you ever tried to meet unrealistic expectations? Me too.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to be perfect. Fifteen years ago, I would’ve enthusiastically raised two hands. Today, I’ve learned how to let go of a lot of the need to be perfect. Yes, I still want to do a good job and be the best I can be in every situation, but that doesn’t equal perfect.

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Sometimes the drive to be perfect sneaks up on me, a lingering shadow in the background, just checking in to see if I’ll notice it.

As someone who received straight-A’s throughout most of high school and all of college, and perfect attendance from kindergarten through senior year of college (really, people!), I have something to say about putting too much pressure on myself.

Here it is:

The greatest source of my own pressure has come from within.

Sure, expectations are everywhere. Family members might expect you to raise your kids a certain way, friends might expect you to respond a certain way. But it’s how we internalize these expectations of others that really allows the pressure to build within. It’s often our perception of what others think of us—and ultimately how it reflects how we think of ourselves—that makes our shoulders tense and our jaws tighten.

Practice It: 5 Ways to Let Go of Daily Pressures

Here are five things that have helped me to deal with the daily pressures of being a modern-day human in a whirlwind of to-dos.

  1. Please don’t compare yourself with other people in your life or online, especially on social media. We are all on very different paths, and all of those paths actually lead to the same thing we are all seeking: love.

  2. Speaking of love, find time every day to do what you really love, and literally feel the pressure melt from your heart, your shoulders or wherever you hold tension. Dedicating time—even if it’s only five minutes a day to do something you truly love to your core—will help you let go of a little bit of pressure of demanding (or commanding for some of us) too much from yourself.

  3. Shift your inner voice to a voice that radiates kindness. Speak to yourself as if you were teaching a young child how to write his or her name for the first time. Actually visualize yourself respond. What voice would you use? Gentle. Encouraging. Calm. Kind.

  4. Spread out your to-do list, my friends. A little bit of to-dos here and a little bit there. It doesn’t all have to get done today. Seriously. It doesn’t.

  5. Get more sleep by going to bed early and at the same time every day. If you just rolled your eyes, this one is challenging for me, too, but it’s related to the spreading out your to-do list tip (see above). Going to bed early and at the same time every day is definitely a practice, and I’ve had to come back to it over and over again. Why? Because I’m busy, too, and the days go by quickly, but I feel way better when I get quality sleep. Sleep is the No. 1 self-care practice I recommend because it is vital to well-being. Learn three ways to get better sleep tonight. Give an early bedtime a chance and see how you feel.

Do you feel better already after reading this list? Less pressured? What other things have helped you deal with pressures and expectations?

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